Caribbean Political Economy

EPAS and Asymmetrical Integration: Caribbean Tale

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Presentation at Workshop on Alternative Trade, St Mary’s University, Halifax, N.S. 1-2 November 2013

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The Caribbean EPA Five Years After, Joyce Van Genderen-Naar

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December 16, 2012 marks the fifth anniversary of the conclusion of negotiations of the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement. During this time the controversies over the Caribbean EPA have not abated. In her review for the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting held in Suriname last month, Joyce Van Genderen-Naar raises questions about the ratification and provisional application of the EPA, points to the losses of revenue and the preference erosion facing Caribbean countries, and discloses the major differences that have erupted between Caribbean and European officials over the tariff liberalisation schedules.

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From Berlin to Brussels: EPAs as the second ‘Scramble for Africa’, Charles Soludo

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Professor Charles Soludo has been Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (2004-2009); Chief Economic Adviser to the President of Nigeria and CEO of the Nigerian National Planning Commission (2003-2004), Founding Chairman of the African Finance Corporation and consultant to 18 international organisations. A Board Member of the South Centre, this presentation showing why EPAs are contrary to the interests of  Africa was made at a Forum in Geneva in Jul2y 2012.


Bilateral and Regional FTAs: Critical Elements and Development Implications, Martin Khor

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A detailed and critical examination of recent Free Trade Agreements between developing and developed countries, particularly U.S.-developing country FTAs. Includes treatment of,  issues market access in trade in goods; services; investment liberalisation and protection of investor rights; intellectual property; government procurement; competition policy; labour and environment standards.

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Developmental Implications of the CARIFORUM-EC EPA, Third World Network

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This 75-page paper begins with an analysis of the disadvantages of free trade agreements compared to multilateral trade agreements; and continues with a critique of the CARIFORUM-EC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) through a detailed examination of the chapters on Trade in Goods, Services, Investment, Competition policy, Governmment Procurement, Intelellectual Property and Dispute Settlement.

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Some Lessons of the Cariforum-EU EPA, Norman Girvan

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From Trade Negotiations Insights • Volume 8 • Number 8 • October 2009.

[Abridged version of,   The Caribbean EPA Affair: Lesons for for the Progressive Movement]

The CARIFORUM-EU EPA, which was initialled in December 2007 and signed in October 2008, precipitated one of the most intense public debates in the recent history of the Caribbean Community (Caricom). At the core of the controversy lay differing views amongst Caribbean elites on development strategy, trade policy, regional integration, and the manner of engaging with globalisation. This paper suggests some ‘lessons learnt’ from the negotiation process itself and from the efforts of civil society to secure review and renegotiation of the initialled text. It employs a political economy approach that considers issues of ideology, power, governance and politics…

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Reflections on the Cariforum-EC EPA

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by Clive Thomas

This paper offers basically from a CARICOM perspective, a strategic appraisal of the external trade policy changes encapsulated in the CARIFORUM-EC, Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This has been recognised as the first “full and comprehensive” EPA among the six that are being negotiated by the European Commission, (EC) and the African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) group of countries. At this point, the EPA is both a legal agreement and an instrument designed to promote specified development objectives. Ultimately, its strengths, weaknesses, as well as the opportunities it will create and the threats it will face, will unfold during its implementation. How this is actualized will be a principal determinant of its success in attaining those objectives.

The first Section contrasts key forecasted long-run benefits of the EPA with front-loaded implementation costs that are already occurring in the Region. Section II assesses why this is the case. Section III comments on the EU assistance commitments in the Agreement. Section IV assesses the consultations process in CARICOM during the negotiations and draws attention to some important issues of economic governance. The final Section (V) considers a number of contextual and related issues important for the future of the Region under the EPA.

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The Caribbean EPA Affair: Lessons for the Progressive Movement


by Norman Girvan

Abstract: This paper discusses lessons for the regional progressive movement of the 2007-2008 campaign of Caricom civil society to secure public review and government renegotiation of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA. To this end it highlights the role of ideology, power, governance and politics. It argues that the EPA institutionalises a relationship of asymmetrical power with the European Union based on the principles of neoliberal globalisation; and that it was secured through the manipulation of ‘divide and conquer’ and ‘carrot and stick’ strategies together with an ideologically driven framework for the negotiations,  that portrayed neoliberal policies as being automatically conducive to development.,  The protest movement succeeded in exposing the agreement to public scrutiny and debate and,  helped to secure insertion of a mandatory review clause in the final agreement. It failed to obtain a complete renegotiation of the EPA:,  the reasons include the absence of a strong regional political base and organisational capability, the amorphous character of Cariforum/Caricom governance; and the,  enormous external and internal pressures exerted on governments to sign what had been negotiated. Three techniques employed in the EPA process are highlighted: ‘technification’ of the negotiation process as an instrument of mystification and political exclusion; ‘sweetification’ of the presumed benefits of the EPA in order to facilitate political acceptance; and ‘treatyfication’ of the outcome of the negotiations in order,  to bind present and future government policies. These techniques may have salience in the politics of trade agreements in other countries and regions. The paper concludes by summarising lessons in the light of the possibility of modifying the EPA in the future and of upcoming negotiations with other trading partners involving issues similar to those that were contentious in the EPA.

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EPA Lessons and Canadian FTA, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at Caribbean Diplomatic Training Programme for Mid-Career Diplomats, Georgetown, Guyana, May 22, 2009

  • EPA Criticisms
  • Strategic Lessons
  • EPA Review Clause
  • Canadian FTA,  

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Assessment of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, ECLAC

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The objective of this review is to shed some light on the issues driving (the EPA) debate particularly in the areas of market access, the impact on tariff revenues, and the implications for regional integration…

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Five Development Issues in the EPA, Havelock Brewster

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Text of presentation at UNIFEM Expert Group Meeting on ‘Gender and the EPA’, Port of Spain, July 27, 2008

The European Union’s (EU) economic size, measured by its gross domestic product (GDP), is 400 times that of CARICOM, and its average national income seven times greater. Its labor productivity (value of output per worker) is about 5 times that of CARICOM, and its productivity growth is about 2 to 3 times greater. Negotiation with this 800-pound gorilla can in no sense be described as one of between-equals. We must therefore first of all recognize ourselves for what we are- small, weak and vulnerable. And thus we must do the best we can to safeguard our interests; strengthen solidarity with our ACP partners; and develop strategic alliances with sympathetic interests. Reliance on the ” good faith” and ” honor” of any gorilla is misplaced and stupid…

Full Statement

Caricom’s Development Vision and the EPA, Norman Girvan

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‘The Fork in the Road’

Presentation at ILO/CCL Roundtable, Barbados, June 24, 2008

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Lessons of the EPA, Norman Girvan

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Keynote Address at CPDC/FITUN Caribbean Regional Forum, UWI Campus, St Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago, June 12, 2008 (Revised)

From before the EPAs were initialled a great deal of concern had been expressed that ACP countries were being the agreements being negotiated fell far short of the satisfying the Cotonou mandate to support sustainable development and regional integration. The view commonly expressed was that ACP countries were being, in effect, coerced by the EC into signing agreements to meet an artificially imposed deadline; and that these agreements that had much more to do with the EC’s global trade agenda than with the interests of ACP countries...

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Lessons of the EPA (PPT), Norman Girvan

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Presentation at the CPDC/Oxfam/Christian Aid Consultation on the Cariforum-EC Economic Partnership Agreement, St. Augustine, Trinidad, June 12, 2008

Lessons of the EPA PPT

The EPA and Caribbean Development, Norman Girvan

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Presentation at Civil Society Forum on the EPA held in Kingston, May 1, 2008

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The EPA: A Critical Evaluation, Norman Girvan

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A comprehensive analysis of the provisions of the Cariforum-EC EPA from a critical standpoint. Click below to access PowerPoint Presentation.

The EPA: A Critical Evaluation PPT

Caricom’s Development Vision and the EPA: A Fork in the Road, Norman Girvan

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Public Lecture, UWI, Cave Hill, Barbados, April 18, 2008

We are at fork in the road in Caricom’s development. One path, represenented by the shape and content of the EPA, leads to greater differentiation, fragmentation and loss of autonomy for the region …the other path leads to greater integration, gradual convergence of core living standards and citizens’ economic social and political rights, and greater autonomy, that is to say greater capacity to chart our own way in this world with dignity and self-determination. That path is represented by the CSME, with all its deficits of participation and implementation and other imperfections; by the Single Development Vision…

Text of lecture

PPT Presentation

The Anti-Development Dimension of the EPA, Havelock Brewster

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Text of a paper presented at the Commonwealth Secretariat High Level Technical Meeting: EPAs: The Way Forward for the ACP. Cape Town, South Africa, 7-8 April, 2008

The basic development problem of the ACP Group of Countries…is inadequate, uncompetitive and undiversified productive capacity. Yet the present Agreement that the European Community (EC) has designed for them, that purports to be an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), is almost entirely about market access and other trade-related modalities…


Caricom Perspectives on the EPA, by Clive Thomas

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Originally published as a series of articles on the EPA in the Stabroek News.

This paper offers from a CARICOM perspective a strategic appraisal of the CARIFORUM-EC, EPA, recognised as the first ” full and comprehensive” EPA among the six being negotiated by the EU among the ACP group of countries. The EPA is both a legal document and an instrument designed to promote specified development objectives. Its strengths, weaknesses, as well as the opportunities it will create and the threats it faces, will unfold during its implementation…



The Guyana National Consultation on the EPA

Partnership or Powerplay? The EPAS and Development, Oxfam

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To acccess the Oxfam Report on the EPAs,,   click here

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